Seven Packing Tips You Need to Know

Matilda is a part-time digital nomad and aspiring professional suitcase packer.


I Love Packing

Packing seems to be everyone's least favorite part of travelling, but not mine. Me? I pack weeks before I leave for a trip and then I pack again and again until everything is just perfect. Lucky for you, that means I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and I'm here to share them with you.

So, without further delay, here are my seven best packing tips.

Is this just a beach blanket? Or, is it also a scarf, dress, towel, and skirt?

Is this just a beach blanket? Or, is it also a scarf, dress, towel, and skirt?

1. Pack Multipurpose Everything!

My ultimate packing goal is to have nothing in my bag with only one purpose. If something in there only has one purpose, it had better be adjustable, reversible, foldable, or very, very small.

In my bag, I have:

  • a reversible camp pillow/dry bag
  • a multipurpose flashlight, power bank, and hand warmer
  • a laundry bag that doubles as a wall hanging for my VIPKID online classroom
  • much more!

The more multipurpose items you can find to pack, the fewer things you need to pack. After all, the ultimate goal of packing is simply to pack as little as possible.

Everything must match!

Everything must match!

2. Invest in Tech-Savvy Clothes

Guys, we live in the future. Clothes these days can be stain-proof, smell-proof, or waterproof, made out of lightweight fabric that keeps you cool, or keeps you warm, and most importantly, keeps you comfy. And all of this can be made in an environmentally friendly way.

Technical fabrics have changed the face of travel. Why should you drag heavy, bulky clothing with you while backpacking South East Asia? Why should you have to do laundry any more than absolutely necessary while travelling? The answer: You shouldn't!

So, what should you look for?

  • Activewear: Activewear is usually made of quick-drying fabrics that take body temperature into consideration. Anyone who has ever tried to hang dry clothes in a humid climate will appreciate this one.
  • Workwear: Clothes made for work are made to be used! They are made to deal with tough environments, spills, and general abuse—all things that one finds travelling.
  • Travel wear: This one might be obvious, but with the advent of crowd-funding platforms and online shops, travel wear is becoming more and more popular. That is great news for use fellow travellers!
Are you going to take your whole travel bag canoeing? Probably not. Are there huge benefits to packing with dry bags anyway? Absolutely.

Are you going to take your whole travel bag canoeing? Probably not. Are there huge benefits to packing with dry bags anyway? Absolutely.

3. Keep Your Stuff Dry

This is a hack I came across kind of accidentally. Spending my summers in a rural area means that I get to do a lot of camping, hiking, and canoeing and that means that I have a lot of gear, including dry bags. I had so many that when I went travelling that I just started using them for organization instead of buying new packing cubes.

Turns out, they have some benefits.

  • They are waterproof. That's the entire point of them, so they are very good at being waterproof.
  • They're airtight. Being waterproof also means that they are also airtight. A great way to save space in your bag is to roll up your clothes in a dry bag and roll out all the air.
  • They're good for doing laundry. Dry bags make an excellent portable washing machine. Simply add some clothes, warm water, and laundry soap or Dr. Bronner's, close it up, and shake, shake, shake. It is way easier than hand washing everything separately when there is no other option.
Are these bars soap? Shampoo? Condition? Lotion? Who knows!

Are these bars soap? Shampoo? Condition? Lotion? Who knows!

4. Bring Toiletries in Bar Form

I love shampoo bars. They take up less space in my bag and I save a lot of plastic by using them instead of liquid shampoo in plastic bottles.

This year, I realised that I could get almost all of my toiletries in bar form: shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, and even lotion! This means even more space in my bag and even less plastic.

The biggest problem I had to solve when I switched all my toiletries to bars was how to store them. The best way that I found? Beeswax wraps. They keep your bars dry while still being breathable and they take up almost no space.

Sooo maaany booooooks *drools*

Sooo maaany booooooks *drools*

5. Bring All Your Books

The one thing I have the biggest issue with when it comes to downsizing for packing is books. Ideally, I would like to travel with a couple novels, one non-fiction book, a journal, a sketchpad, and a calendar. Obviously, this would be somewhat impractical. That's where the world of technology comes in handy.

Personally, I use three devices for books. That may seem like a lot, but only one of them is exclusively for books.

  • Firstly, I use my e-reader. It might be obvious by now, but these are awesome. I can carry about thousands of books in a device that's smaller than a paperback. It's a no brainer.
  • I also use my phone. I use a fabulous app called Libby which allows me to download ebooks from my friendly, local library. It's awesome.
  • Finally, I use my combo tablet/laptop with my trusty stylus as a notebook, journal, sketchbook and everything else I used to use paper for.

Technology, am I right? I would love to always read real paper books and have the capacity to carry around all the writing and art supplies in the word, but technology has given me the next best thing.

Think you can't take a safe travelling? Think again!

Think you can't take a safe travelling? Think again!

6. Keep Your Stuff Safe

There is very little point in carefully packing all your belongings if you are going to lose them. And while most of the time your stuff will be safe around trustworthy people, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

I have two tips for this topic.

  1. Bring a backup wallet! I repeat, bring a backup wallet! If you have ever lost a debit card while abroad, you know what a terrible hassle it is to have it replaced. Pack an extra.
  2. Bring a personal safe. I recommend the slash-proof, lock-up totes from Loctite, but they come in all forms.
See this bag? See how it's not stuffed to the gills? Yeah.

See this bag? See how it's not stuffed to the gills? Yeah.

7. Stop Before Your Bag Is Full

Finally, the most important packing tip of all: Do not fill your suitcase or backpack all the way. Leave a little room. When you are packing and unpacking constantly, you won't want to struggle with bursting zippers, trust me.

Packed perfectly pretty in pink

Packed perfectly pretty in pink

Alright friends, you're all ready for your next adventure. I hope these tips helped! Bon voyage.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matilda Woods

What is your best packing tip? Comment below!

Matilda Woods (author) from Toronto on October 07, 2019:

Thank you, Lorna! I'll be linking to some of my favorite brands soon!

Lorna Lamon on October 07, 2019:

This is an excellent article and one we can all benefit one. One packing tip I use is to roll my clothes up which gives me more space. I love the idea of bars of shampoo etc., which I will try out. Thank you for sharing.

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